Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘torc’

20130720-135401.jpg

HE WHO

Seated god
Says:
“your eyes
are held
Captive
To my stillness.”

He who,
nameless,
named
Now sits,
throned naked
In memory halls.

He who,
voiceless,
whispers
In echoing soul.

Tied by more
than chance,
Tied by here,
by holding stare.

He who
holds steady
the golden promise
Of sun’s journey –
torc horizon,
Aloft,
glinting heavy.

Joined:
the two apart
woven now
To strong chain.
Just like this.

Eye locked,
mind forged,
Welded,
hammered
across lifetimes.

He who,
naked,
needs no armour,
Who,
cross-legged,
needs no defence.
Mountain looking,
ocean speaking,
Still as centuries.

He who,
hair braided,
hair cloaked,
Looks out from,
in to ,
Within, within
This circle,
This heavy
wheel horizon.

He who,
Is.

—-

This is one of the most enigmatic of coin art images, as the simple ones sometimes are. A naked seated male figure. Either with long braided hair or with a woven cloth or rope over his head. A ring or a torc held up in his right hand. Cross-legged male deities appear several times in ritual contexts ( the stone sanctuaries of the South of France and the Gundestrup Cauldron spring to mind). The head covered and the staring eyes suggest a divinatory procedure, or some ritual darkness, perhaps. Full face images are not that common in coin art – profile is used a lot. Full face images often depict semi-divine , severed heads with squiffy, dead eyes. This motif also occurs in deity/druid images like the Petersfield Curnunnos, and may represent a psychopomp role or a squinty shaman. The face here is classically Celtic with large eyes and the suggestion of beard and mustache. If the mouth is open, that too, may be a trance motif.

Read Full Post »

20130627-093646.jpg

If you look at the white pattern above, the peltas can be seen at six, ten and two o-clock, they resemble cross-sections of mushrooms.

1
TORC TALK (PELTA MOTIF)

Well, it was a long time ago that I covered Celtic Art in Art History, and I was never particularly happy with the name labels often given to Celtic motifs, so I suppose confusing a pelta with a trumpet spiral is to be a little expected (particularly when one can be made up of elements of the other). Nonetheless ,that error was mine. As I was playing with the comma-like form of the magatama it morphed into the cresent-like, arced, spiral-ended, mushroom cross-section known as a ‘pelta’.

This name, ‘pelta’ comes from a type of light shield used by the Greeks and Romans, deriving from an original used in Thrace. This itself tells us more about the natural territory and training of Classicalocentric art historians than about the direct connections between a Classical object and a Celtic motif. Look at the prevalent lines in any Early Celtic design and there is a predominance of curvilinear and vegetal forms. Add to that a predeliction for mirroring, reflection and interaction between foreground and background patterns and it is easy to see ‘pelta-like’ forms sprouting up in abundance. The logic of associating the ‘pelta’ motif with a meaning of ‘shield’ is stretched when it can so so much more easily be read as ‘tree’, ‘leaf’, ‘simplified palmette’, ‘reflected crescent moons’ or ‘horns’. In some Classically rendered and stylised imagery, this shape may indeed refer to a martial attribute. But to carry that meaning over onto a similar looking, purely Celtic motif may be far too simplistic, or just simply, inaccurate.

20130627-094137.jpg

What drew me in the first place to look again at the pelta motif was the realisation that it, or its negative shape, closely echoes the shape of the neck collar or ‘torc’, a connection that I am not sure has been noticed before. Looking at a lot of Celtic art, and especially redrawing the imagery, one comes to understand the importance of what is not there – negative space, void, background….

2
TORC TALK- (FIRST THEN)

First then
There is no object,
No thing that does not trawl
A train of intent and opinion,
That does not feel,
Draw with it more of itself
From the invisible.
Nothing that does not speak.
(if you hear nothing but silence, go within it, find its shape and you shall here the words come in and out, for nothing, no thing is voiceless)

Nothing
That has not been born
From a before.
Everything
Has been born
From something else.
Nothing not jealous of its edges. Nothing that will not melt and merge one day into becoming somewhere else. Nothing, in essence, that does not hunger to remain, that does not hunger and feed.

Where to start? It makes no matter where you start. Simply begin. The road is twist and dip but leads to the same shining place…

20130627-095456.jpg

3
FOR THE GODS ALONE

Beauty is for the gods alone.
This gold – no use for plough or warrior,
No use, no use on Earth.
Beauty belongs to the gods,
And to those who talk to them,
To those who speak to them,
To those who belong to them.

A torc, an open ring of twisted wire, often gold, with terminals, cast and decorated finials. Worn as a neck ring. Wires, strings, ropes, woven light, woven and woven, golden rope to tie the soul, to show adherence, obedience, obeisance,obligation to the spirits….

A circle not a circle, an arc, a passage of time, a record of space.
A perforation, the head pushed through
To the airs of heaven,
Upper world,
A division of head from body,
No longer just human:
Owned, illuminated,
Ardour, radiant.
The weight of it:
Not easy to ignore,
It is meaning, a glow..

If the pelta symbol is the negative space of the torc- its contained space – then the pelta occupies the same space as the head. Pelta is head. Head is home of spirit. Pelta is spirit. In some coins of the tribes of Brittany the horse rider’s heads have transmuted into pelta shapes.

20130627-094325.jpg

4
HORIZON’S EDGE

I am the passage of the sun
From dawn to dusk
A woven line of light
To the top of heaven,
To the horizon’s edge.

I am the river of night,
Golden river underground
From dusk to dawn,
A gold thread
Through ancestors’ bones.

Torc is map, halo, sun glow.
A mirror moon, empty,
Crescent, full, crescent,
Empty. Woven around
Each other, silver, gold,
Day, night, copulated,
Seeded…

5
ENSOULED

Seed of the sun
Spilt at sunset
Mated with earth,
Gathered up, gathered up,
Cold made hot once more,
Melted, breathed upon,
Revived, ensouled,
Sung to, given song,
Given name, given sinew,
Given nerve, wound about.
Gold, giver of glory,
Animated, it whispers,
All the time, it whispers.

Should you know its spells
You will prosper,
Should you know its songs
You will be victorious,
Should you know its name,
You shall be returned home
Golden and ever-young.
For it has no end
And its wearer shall remain.
Its giver shall be blessed,
And blessed the receiver.

20130627-093947.jpg

So how should one receive a torc? Many images show the torc being held in the hand. It is held at the centre, midway between the terminals. Displayed, it is held with open ends upwards toward heaven, like a cup to receive the blessings from above. It is shown offered in the same way, with open end towards the recipient. Is it taken possession of by the two hands grasping the finials? Does the giver carefully hold the ring so that the receiver can echo the hold on the opposite side, both joined in obligation for a moment,and then forever, by that golden link, like the passing of a goblet? Is the name whispered? The promise named? The duty proclaimed? In that moment one and one become roped, twisted, bound together, charged with divine power…

20130627-093728.jpg

And as to the making: that wire beaten, stretched, thin and thinner. Taken with others, woven, wound, round, wrapped, mated, united. What spells added, what songs, what promises, what life, what given birth to. ( There are images of swords with dragon spirit beings attached -their sharp souls, snake fast, embedded, the metal a home for other life, given honour, given flesh food). Do the finials give face and eyes to the embedded spirit? Are they of one kind? Are they many? Are they moulded each to each, to be hunted out like fast hounds scent their masters, bound by similarity of spirit?

Here shall be a list,
A reckoning,
A call of names,
A summoning of spirits:

20130627-094507.jpg

Read Full Post »

20130618-220441.jpg

MAGATAMA RETURNS

Tight arc
Hard as stone
Open eye.

Rigid curl
Weighed tight
Pulsing.

Foetal curl
Settled
Pulsing.

What is it?
What is it not?
Magatama.

Worn smooth
Rubbed
Inward.

Container
Contained
Key.

One skin
Rubbed smooth
Inner, outer.

Stretching
Taking form
Throbbing.

Rising head
Looking
Seeing.

Eagle beak
Bear claw
Worn smooth.

Incontrovertible proof
A previous universe
Magatama.

Worn away
All that remains:
First universe.

Hooked,
Held,
Harvested.

Hollow seed
Throwing curved edges,
Expansion.

Hollow centre
Regarding flow
Back to nothing.

Becoming precious
Passed down:
What remains.

Accumulating
One surface:
Time-space.

Oldest unknown
First limit
Convolution.

—-


Every now and then, the magatama awakes, whispers into half-sleep. It is a strange being, a shape so simple, so involuted. A seed, a genetic meme. Casting around, I wondered if there were other antediluvian icons that would stir that ancestral well so surely. So far, the closest approach is by the Celtic torc. Like the magatama to the first Japanese peoples, the torc epitomised what to be a Celt meant. A real, tangible object, an object of trade, of status, of power. I shall have to listen to their whispers also……

20130618-220652.jpg

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: